Things didn’t look great for the Hoosiers on Friday as they got blanked by Maryland 2-0 to drop their second contest in a row.
They put any questions to bed over the course of the next two days as on Saturday and Sunday they beat the Terrapins by a combined score of 39-9.
With the 2-1 series win Indiana moves to 17-10 on the season and 5-1 in the Big Ten. They’re in second place in the conference behind only Michigan, which had the third game of its conference opening series with Michigan State cancelled on Sunday and sits at 2-0.
1. Holy Home Runs
In their two wins in this series the Hoosiers hit 13 home runs. This barrage included monstrous performances from Grant Richardson and Scotty Bradley who each slugged a trio of long balls as well as Matt Lloyd who mashed four by himself. The remaining homers came from Matt Gorski, Drew Ashley, and Big Ten home runs leader Cole Barr.
This rampage pushed Indiana all the way up to the top of the national team home runs leaderboard. New Mexico State was the leader heading into Sunday, but mustered up just one homer in a win over Chicago State. The Aggies have 51 long balls now on the season and the Hoosiers have 52.
2. Superb Starting Pitching
The Indiana offense was a very visible part of this weekend’s success, putting up runs in bunches, but the rotation had quite the weekend as well.
On Friday ace Pauly Milto was solid as always. He went 6.1 innings and struck out eight batters. He got tagged for the loss despite allowing just two runs because he didn’t get any run support.
Saturday saw Tanner Gordon continue his hot streak. The transfer had a strong showing, giving up just one run on three hits over seven innings and striking out five. This is the third straight start that’s ended in a W for Gordon as well as the third straight start in which he’s gone at least seven innings. It seems as if he’s figured out what it takes to pitch at the D-I level and it couldn’t come at a better time as Big Ten play is getting underway.
In the rubber match Indiana got a quality start from hot-and-cold southpaw Andrew Saalfrank. The junior went six innings, struck out 11, and allowed only a pair of runs.
If this group can continue to be dominant the sky is the limit for the Hoosiers.
3. Big Bounceback
On Wednesday Indiana suffered an ugly loss at the hands of a Kent State team that’s ranked 115th in RPI. Their only worse loss in terms of RPI was to Cincinnati earlier this month. In that game the Hoosiers struggled with fundamentals and nearly escaped thanks to some heroic homers, but they dug themselves too deep of a hole to climb out of. They followed that up with the aforementioned donut on the scoreboard on Friday against Maryland to make it back-to-back losses. Instead of letting that snowball into three or four or five losses they got back on the winning side of things in a big way. The ability to rebound from a loss is important because you aren’t going to win them all. Indiana showed the ability to do that this weekend.
We’ll see a reunion at Bart Kaufman Field on Wednesday as Indiana will host the Wright State Raiders for a midweek matchup. Hoosier head coach Jeff Mercer, of course, is in his first season in Bloomington after being hired away from Wright State over the offseason. The Raiders are a top 100 RPI team and have some impressive victories over some of the best teams in the country including Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, and East Carolina. Over the weekend they took two of three games from Youngstown State and are scheduled to play Wofford at home on Tuesday before they head to Bloomington. This should be a good game, not quite the quality of a midweek opponent like Kentucky or Louisville, but still a good challenge for this Hoosier team.